Barcelona: Messi hitting form again just in time for PSG clash
Messi has eight goals in the last five LaLiga games while as a team, Barça have scored 26 in the 12 most recent games - which bodes well for the PSG tie.
Leo Messi will prominently feature on the front covers of the French sports press this week but not reporting on the possibility that he could be joining Paris Saint Germain. Messi will return this week as PSG's old enemy, the player who famously led Barça's comeback while injured like Cervantes' hero El Cid in the 2012-13 meeting. Then there was that famous image of him leaping onto an advertising hoarding, fist defiantly raised after the 2017 6-1 comeback, something which Paris Saint Germain fans found hard to forget.
Messi and Barcelona are in action for the return of the Champions League this week. Messi goes into the game after scoring eight goals in the last five league games. The physical problems which prevented him from performing to his best in the Spanish Super Cup (he missed the semi-final and was injured during the final, part of the reason for his sending off) are now in the past. And since that game against Valladolid just before Christmas, which gave us the first glimpse of a blossoming connection between the Argentinean and Pedri. When is Messi firing on all cylinders, he raises the level of the team. Things have started looking up for Barça in general. They've had two slip-ups - the Spanish Super Cup final against Athletic and losing to Sevilla in in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final. Two serious accidents because one cost them a trophy and the other could as well if they are unable to overturn a two/goal deficit in the return leg.
But overall, the team is back winning. Koeman's Barça have registered seven consecutive wins in Liga and nine victories and two draws in the last 11 games. Barça have scored 26 goals in their last 12 games and apart from Messi, players like Pedri, Griezmann, De Jong and Dembélé are looking sharp which gives Barcelona hope for the PSG tie.
"He is totally involved, he looks happy," Koeman daid of Messi after the Alavés game. The No.10 looks as relaxed as if he is out playing with his mates on the school patio, playing with superiority and sufficiency, knowing what is required at each moment of the game and which of his team mates are closest to him at all times. From the outside, the relationship between player and coach seems to be stronger than ever. And whenever Messi believes in a coach, things turn out well. We are seeing another Messi. He will turn 34 in a few months' time but he's the same Messi he has always been, the one who decides games when he wants, and if he had been sharper at the Sánchez Pizjuán, Barça might have been in a better position going into the return leg.
"If we are to eliminate PSG, we need Messi at his best," Koeman told reporters at the end of the Alavés game. And you get the sensation that, if the coach is saying that, it's because his star player is indeed back at his best.
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